Babies and children Psychology

Thomas’s Journey (and how we survived baby colic)

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Thomas’s Birth

Thomas was born at 3 am after 27 hours of labor, he was born with amniotic fluid in his lungs. I remember him looking up at me and screaming, coughing up foamy liquid. He was holding on tight to the skin on my side with his little fist. I kept saying that there was something wrong, that he kept coughing some liquid, but the nurse kept assuring me that it’s normal and everything is okay. After 15 minutes of skin-to-skin, the nurse finally noticed something was wrong and rushed him away to a separate room to be aspirated. All of my expectations for a natural birth and uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact were crushed. For nine months I read about the importance of natural birth and how the deepest traumas we have are generated by birth complications. And here I was.

The neonatal nurse, my husband, and the gynecologist all left with Thomas and I was alone in the delivery room, staring at the ceiling and crying. This can’t be real. After two hours, they told me that Thomas would be transferred to another hospital because he needed more complex machinery to help him, he wasn’t getting enough oxygen. He spent that night at the other hospital, deeply sedated, and I spent that night at the maternity clinic. Needless to say, it ended up being the most difficult night of my life. I had nobody to ask if he was doing okay, I had no idea what was going on, if he was still alive. I kept repeating to my husband that that baby I was holding was so small and fragile, how could this happen to him, he needs me right now and I’m not there. They transferred him to reanimation, reanimation, that means that he needs to be reanimated. How could that be. He was so small.

The next day at 3 pm I was finally transferred to the 5th floor of the hospital where he was taken, and I limped as fast as my legs could carry me to the 7th floor to see him. He was asleep, in a warm incubator, attached to robots and tubes and blinking lights and LED screens reading out numbers I would learn to fully understand in the next couple days.

Over the next three days, I would spend as much time as I could by his side, only leaving the reanimation ward to eat. Holding his hand, stroking his fuzzy head, watching the oxygen saturation monitor, adjusting his tubes so they wouldn’t bother him. Every four hours, a neonatal nurse would come for some treatments, which I started to take over finally. After three days he was transferred to the neonatal ward, where he stayed for four more days. During this whole time he was being injected with incredible amounts of intravenous antibiotics.

Coming Home

When we finally came home with Thomas, we realized that there was a big problem. He refused to sleep, he refused to eat calmly. He wouldn’t fall asleep unless we were carrying him in the baby wrap (Je Porte Mon Bebe). When he would breastfeed, after a couple minutes he’d start kicking me and pushing me away, screaming and arching his back. I’d put him back and in a couple minutes he’d do the same thing again. After 20 to 30 minutes of struggle, he’d finally be full and I’d burp him and put him down. Then, minutes or hours later he’d projectile vomit incredible amounts of milk back up and start screaming. He definitely had an acid reflux problem.

Apart from that, he refused to be alone in his bed. He was definitely touched by the fact that he had been taken away from me instantly after birth, and he would do anything to avoid that happening again, even if it meant staying awake and monitoring me 24/7. As a crescendo, he refused all the pacifiers which we tried on him. He had chosen me to be his pacifier (or else).

The purpose of writing this article is to share all of the methods which we tried to fix our predicament, in the hopes that it might help someone out there too. Don’t give up, there is hope!

(Finally) Our Solutions for Baby Colic

First off, I’m not a doctor, and you should go see a pediatrician before following this advice. I did go see one, who wasn’t very helpful, which is why I embarked on the solitary journey to find the cause and solution myself.

There is no 100% cause for baby colic, and I find that it’s a combination of many factors. For some people it’s one factor more than another, for others it’s another more than the first.

The general causes  that I discovered are:

  • …that the esophageal sphincter hasn’t yet completely matured and isn’t strong enough to close completely, therefore milk comes back up;
  • …that baby has been through some traumatic experience at some point, and he needs constant reassurance that you won’t abandon him;
  • …that either naturally, or due to antibiotics administered soon after birth, baby doesn’t have balanced intestinal flora yet and isn’t able to digest with ease;
  • …that due to this imbalance of intestinal flora, he or she isn’t able to easily digest lactose and cow milk protein (found in breastmilk if the mother eats dairy products);
  • …that baby has a cow milk protein allergy;
  • …that the intense contractions and passage through the birth canal caused tensions and displacements in some of baby’s bones, muscles and ligaments;

Here is a list of all the solutions which we tried. Basically everything that I saw on the internet wasn’t helping. He would scream and flail helplessly if I tried to give him a warm bath, he would cry and arch his back if I tried to comfort him and feed him, etc. We were so grateful for having found a solution. No baby should have to cry the way Thomas was crying.

I leave the ones that didn’t work much also in case someone is thinking of trying them. Consider also that we tried all of these, so the solution might be a combination of them. Red font for those which helped the most.

Breastfeeding upright

This gave me almost instant results – I found this solution when I was forced to feed Thomas while he was in his baby carrier once. He had to reach his head up to find the milk, and due to this position the milk wasn’t running fast with the help of gravity – he had to work for it to get it. The air he would swallow would easily come back up in this position, and I would hear him burp often while he ate. Normally, I would have to pat his back after eating, and most of the time after burping he’d helplessly regurgitate all his milk back up again.

Homeopathy

We visited a pediatrician who reassured us that Thomas’s behavior is normal behavior (we were hopeless at the time, and that was a painful thing to hear after seeing him suffer day after day). When I heard this, I insisted that it’s really severe reflux and he is in incredible pain, and we need a solution. He prescribed us a gel containing dimethicone, artificial coloring and others, to give to Thomas to stop his reflux. I shamefully tried to give it to him several times, after which I decided that poisoning a tiny, fragile baby with these industrial chemicals can’t be the only solution.

We went to a holistic general practitioner who gave us a prescription for three homeopathic remedies: nux vomica 15ch (3 granules every evening), thuya occidentalis 15ch (3 granules every morning) and silicea 15ch (10 granules every saturday). You should check with a pediatrician to see if these are okay for your baby to take. We noticed a difference in Thomas’s attitude after about a week, he was much calmer and took better naps during the day.

Nat Phos x6

This is a remedy which we found a lot of parents were raving about on the internet, saying how amazing it is and how quickly it helped baby reflux! We found the remedy on Joe Delivera’s website here:

Nat Phos 6x tablet dissolved in milk given immediately after a feed. Start with half tablet but if the response is not as expected, you may increase to a full tablet but you will not exceed 6 tablets in 24 hours.

You may like to try to reduce the quantity of milk you give for each feed to enable baby’s digestion to stabilize. You will however feed more often. It is essential that you burp baby immediately after each feed.

You will avoid eating all food that can cause any distress to baby.You must know that they are passed on to baby through your breast milk.

It is best not to vaccinate Baby till s/he is over a year old as the after effects in some cases can add to the problems with GERD.
Do not give Baby any solid food till s/he is over 8 months of age.

You (the mother) will take Nat Phos 6x dose 2 tablets after each of 3 meals daily. The idea is that your milk will pass the effect to baby. You may like to know that Nat Phos 6x will help to reduce your weight by 1kg per week very safely.

What we noticed was that in a couple of days, Thomas stopped arching his back and crying after his reflux came up. Before, it was burning his esophagus and throat, but now the nat phos had helped make his stomach acid more basic and although he continued to regurgitate, it wasn’t so acidic anymore. After a couple more days, we noticed he was having less and less reflux. When it had tapered down to 1-2 regurgitations per day, we stopped giving them to him.

Probiotics

Probiotics are absolutely necessary if your baby went through an antibiotic treatment! His or her belly needs to restore all of its good bacteria. Nobody told us about this, and so we waited two or three weeks before we started the probiotics treatment. We noticed that Thomas felt much better in a couple of days! The probiotic which we used was BioGaia Lactobacillus Reuteri ProTectis, in drop form.

Also, due to this flora imbalance, he developed thrush on his diaper area which we unfortunately had to treat with a cream called Mycoster twice a day for 15 days, helping once a day with Bioderma Cicabio cream (more natural).

Rescue Remedy from The Original Bach Flower Remedies

This might have slightly helped during his crying attacks. Officially, you can only use this on children 3 years old and above, but there is no reason why a small baby couldn’t have a portion of the dose, the pharmacist told me. We were giving one or two drops instead of four only when Thomas would have a serious crying fit. When I saw it didn’t help incredibly, I stopped giving it. This remedy is something you should administer immediately after a traumatic event.

Cutting out dairy…

This is what helped the most!!! They say some babies have a cow milk protein allergy, and to help baby digest easier, the mother should cut out dairy. It takes approximately 1.5 weeks for dairy to exit the mother’s organism and then another 1.5 weeks to exit the baby’s organism completely. And approximately in 2-3 weeks, Thomas was doing incredibly better! I was able to wrap him up, feed him (during which he would fall asleep), and place him into his bed where he’d sleep for at least 30 minutes, on his own!

It’s very tricky to cut out dairy because milk is in everything – read the ingredients of anything which you eat meticulously, because even the slightest amount of powder milk or butter or anything might roll back all your progress. You’d be surprised which food has dairy in it! In the beginning, include also any milk products, goat cheese and milk, etc. After a couple weeks, you might try goat cheese to see if it works out for you (Thomas is 2 months old now and I can eat goat cheese yogurts without a problem, but when I had a pizza with cheese on it he started throwing up again and having trouble sleeping for the rest of the day, at least).

Most of my favorite foods contained dairy – cheese, chocolate, milk, butter, bread, lasagna, pizza, pretty much anything I craved. I was a bit sad for two weeks, but when I saw the progress and discovered some comforting foods which had no dairy in them, I felt a bit better.

Chiropractor

This is a must for a baby with colic, without colic, any baby. Due to the compressions of the contractions, squeezing out of the birth canal, and even just from being scrunched up inside your uterus for several months, babies are bound to have tensions all over the place.

First visit to the chiropractor, he wasn’t able to finish up because Thomas was crying (our life became literally: if Thomas is awake, he is crying, no exceptions). The night we came home from the chiropractor, Thomas was much calmer than usual. Several days later, we went back so that the chiropractor could finish up Thomas. That night, when we came home, he was literally a new baby. In about a week we went in for a follow-up consultation and ever since, Thomas is doing so much better.

Baby wearing

Of course, you can’t do it forever, but it goes without saying that a baby going through colic needs affection and closeness. 

Reassuring baby

This one’s very important. Even if baby’s crying and you have no idea how to help him, it’s important to reassure him and to tell him that everything is alright. Even if he doesn’t hear you because he’s crying! Don’t let him cry alone, because crying is communication. He’s trying to get your attention and to tell you that something is wrong. You need to show him that you are listening to what he’s trying to tell you, and you are doing the best you can. On some unspoken level, babies do understand everything you tell them. Sometimes, talking in a calm, low, monotone voice would almost instantly tranquilize Thomas. 

Final words

Listen to your baby and don’t let a doctor tell you that something is normal when your instincts and your baby are telling you it’s not. Don’t guilt yourself and tell yourself you aren’t a good parent, either! You’re doing the best you can and you will find a solution and be able to cuddle your baby and spend time with them without crying and back-arching and suffering.

If you have any questions about what I wrote, don’t hesitate to contact me through the contact form below.

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